Varsity MLA leaves Progressive Conservatives

By Tendayi Moyo

On March 17, Calgary-Varsity MLA and former cabinet minister Donna Kennedy-Glans resigned from the Progressive Conservative caucus. The decision came four days after Calgary-Foothills MLA Len Webber crossed the floor to sit as an independent. Two days after Kennedy-Glans left the party, Alberta Premier Alison Redford announced her resignation. We caught up with Kennedy-Glans — who represents the University of Calgary’s provincial riding — to ask about one of the biggest political shake-ups Alberta has seen in years.

The Gauntlet: It has been about a week since you resigned from the Tory caucus. What has been the response in your riding?

Donna Kennedy-Glans: Actually, it has been overwhelmingly positive and supportive. I’m really grateful for that. A big priority for me is making sure that the constituency and my constituency board understand the reasons for my decision.

G: Do you think that you will be able to serve the riding as effectively as an independent?

DKG: I think I can do so in an even better way. The [riding’s] values are pretty clear and I have been acting on those values and making sure that we honour them. I think this independent status allows me to do that even more effectively.

G: You said that you don’t think the PCs can change from within­.

DKG: No, I didn’t say that. People misquote me on that. I said there are elements within the PC party that cannot, or seem not able to change from within — not all elements, but some elements.

G: Which elements?

DKG: Oh, they’re all over the place. What is a political party? It’s the people who vote for the party, the people who join and become members of the party. It’s constituency associations, MLAs, a caucus, a cabinet and a leader. There were players within all of those groups that weren’t really motivated to do anything differently.

G: What kind of change does Albertan politics need?

DKG: Fiscal discipline. I think we’ve got a lot of top-down decision-making that is not consistent with the values of the party, so I think how we make decisions is really important. We need to do that with more discipline. And entitlement: I think the perception of entitlement in this province, given the party’s age, is something we have to proactively manage and anticipate.

G: We’ve heard the term entitlement thrown around quite a bit. What does that mean and how does it manifest itself in the PC party?

DKG: There is a suspicion that people who are party members have better access to politicians and decision makers. That if you’re a member of the party, you’re special, and if you’re an MLA, you’re even more special, and if you’re the leader of the party you’re extra special. It’s as simple as that.

G: Do you think Redford’s resignation was best for the party?

DKG: I think it was inevitable. Leadership in any political party is important but I think there are other equally important aspects of a party that need to be respected. We need to walk our talk on not just leadership roles.

G: Now that Redford has resigned will you consider rejoining the party?

DKG: I think it would be rather fickle of me to leave on a Monday and come back the next Monday. My decision will be made based on what my constituents need and want.

G: Are there structural problems that need to be fixed?

DKG: Yes, there are. I think there has been a blurring of lines between government and politics. My MLA office is a government office. There is no political paraphernalia in here. I am a MLA who represents my constituency and it doesn’t really matter what stripe I am — and it shouldn’t matter. So if it ever does, then we’ve blurred the line between government and politics. That’s something you’ve got to keep really neat and tidy particularly in a province where you’ve had a party in power for so long.

G: Will Dave Hancock be a capable premier?

DKG: I think he’s a very capable man. He understands the legislative process probably as well as anybody in that legislature. I’m a little bit surprised at some of the comments he has made in the house of late. He seems very defensive. I understand where that comes from, but I think we have to move beyond being defensive of what has just happened.

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